Through the hallways, only slightly different from what I felt earlier traveling through as a ghost. More real, vibrant in the quick. My pulse is speeding up with the impending sense of conflict. I know what to expect, I know not to be ambushed, and my body responds by being hyper-alert. Eyes darting from movement to movement, stomach clenched, skin tingling. I start at the door to 22A. Heading down and mapping the spots of sunlight. Only problem is everything here is too bright, reflected light off of floors and white-washed walls now yellow. Move faster, I think to myself. I want to forget about the vampire, find someplace isolated and face down this thing that’s coming for me. I’m not sure why I want to save that thing, other than wanting to stop whatever this guy is doing. Making friends is a good thing right?
Only if they’re actually friends.
When I get to the first floor hallway, I realize that whatever it is, it’s here, and its not looking for me, its looking for it. I can feel the primal hatred moving through the building underneath me, going towards the basement. Sprint forward. Take stairs two and three at a time, hoping not to break my neck. I get to the landing just before it does. I can see the haze of darkness floating there, a spectral face distorted scrunched together and screaming. A woman and her child come out the first door on the right, look at me in the landing, right through the thing and scurry off, apparently scared by the look on my face. It hovers to a stop. I don’t bother trying to reason or talk to it, I leap forward, fist raised up to slam down on it before landing. My stomach relaxes enough to pull the energy up and out.
Contact. I stop midair, connecting with invisible solids, the grave-cold specter reels back from the blow and screams.
I hear a pop, and then nothing out of my left ear. A trickle down the side of my face, a rip through my shirt that barely misses passing into my abdomen.
Fists up, fighting stance. A man comes into the foyer and stops, looking at me, confused and somewhat alarmed. “Shadow boxing,” I say back to him, taking some jabs at the darkness that he can’t see. I’m distracted though, so I don’t connect. The thing scratches out at me, and I make a show of being light on my feet. Not light enough. It catches me on the same side, and I move so that the dude can’t see it. I can feel the blood. He rushes into his apartment, and I hope doesn’t call the cops.
I throw myself at the thing, grabbing it by the manifested face and somewhere that I want to call a chest but doesn’t really matter because it doesn’t have an abdomen. It screams, more of my skin rips open, especially on my face. I force some inner essence into the wounds so that the wounds seal into bruises rather than obvious cuts. I whisper some ancient Greek that I picked up from a book, entreating Hekate to claim her own. The two of us can hear the barking of dogs throughout the building, and the thing quivers, wretches left, trying to escape my hold, I keep going on the exorcism as it writhes, and I’m holding it, mentally hoping another one of the tenant’s doors don’t open.
There’s a whoosh, an out-gassing of air as I’m left breathless, suffocating. The archway into the stairs turns black, and the darkness in my hands is gone, sucked through. The world pops back into place. I take a deep breath and cough. I need to quit smoking. As I’m walking back into the foyer to grab the coffee I glimpsed when dude-face came in, someone else is walking in. The gasp at the blood.
“Shooting an indie film. I forgot my coffee.” I manage to look apologetic. Its a pretty close look to being in pain, so it works.
The coffee is cold again. I hurry down to the basement.